Amazon has insisted a handful of Twitter accounts defending the company and tweeting about the conditions in its warehouses are real employees, after a bizarre Twitter interaction went viral on Thursday.
Tweeting en-masse to a chosen few who might have said something negative about the nearly trillion dollar company, Ambassadors have names like Dylan or Rafael or Cindi or Audra, and they want you to know they’re having a fantastic time working at Amazon.
“I mean, it feels like artificial intelligence (AI), in that these people clearly cannot converse outside of a very specific set of talking points,” says Diana Wilde, who sparked a reaction from multiple “Amazon FC Ambassadors” when she responded to a promoted tweet on her timeline.
“You’re not going to convince the working class that everything is fine by telling us where to avert out eyes, we already know what it’s really like,” she wrote on Thursday. “Why don’t you really treat your workers better, you can afford it.”
Wilde said she only tweeted in passing, not expecting a reaction – and especially not expecting an “AI army” to come after her.
“They don’t reply like a normal person [not under duress] would,” she said.
The story of Amazon’s Fulfilment Centre Ambassadors program first kicked off in 2018. The company revealed it would be enlisting chosen employees to tweet about the company as part of a publicity campaign in the face of increasing reports about the dire conditions in its warehouses (which are called ‘fulfilment centres’ – hence ‘FC’ in their account names)
There was a similar, albeit smaller, reaction to the PR move back then – but now the accounts are back and the internet has lived through a whole year of volatile union-bashing and fake news and information war. When John the Amazon FC Ambassador made himself public again in 2019, the reaction was a tad more dumbfounded.
In a statement to PEDESTRIAN.TV, an Amazon rep said those employees are “free to post what they want, and if they see things they disagree with online, they may respond with their own opinion.”
Most of these Ambassador accounts follow zero people and have the explicit mission of tweeting about Amazon. They seem to run on a rotating roster of personalities, with the actual name of the account never changing while the user’s name does. Rarely is personal information included – but sometimes pictures are shared of completely normal things, like being allowed to give your autograph to the robot that will inevitably become your replacement, or sharing photos of the bathrooms that are all over the warehouses that workers are allowed to use whenever they want (“without permission!”)
Investigative site Bellingcat determined many of the Twitter accounts were linked to Amazon email accounts, finding 53 accounts in America, Spain, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Poland. PEDESTRIAN.TV understands there are no Ambassadors currently employed in Australia.
Of course, all of these very normal conversations resulted in other people, who did not work for Amazon, trying their best to imitate them for laughs. Now the internet is full of Amazon Ambassador accounts, because all you have to do is change your name on Twitter to become one.
At Amazon, we are family. We drink of the same chalice and, through the blood, we are reborn to the life everlasting. While you grow withered and hoary with age, we, the brides and bridegrooms of the Master, are untouched by the centuries. We are as gods. You are food to us. pic.twitter.com/pp1YG8Jtdq
— Adrian – Amazon FC Ambassador (@blagojevism) August 15, 2019
I am so proud of being a real person who enjoys his work in the wonderfully humane Amazon fulfillment centers. I am happy I love box I get so many pee breaks I am so full of organs.
— Joaquin – Amazon FC Ambassador ???? (@joabaldwin) August 15, 2019
oh no! I dropped my daily allotted cheese slice that I was going to have for lunch! do not fear, though. Amazon warehouse floors are cleaned on a regular basis and are well within health regulations! 😀 pic.twitter.com/jrIysPdryV
— Ciaran – Amazon FC Ambassador ???? (@diffdial) August 15, 2019
The genuine Ambassador FC accounts are a lesson in Where We Are Now, a lesson in what corporations are able to do with social media in order to frame experiences.
These people may very well be enjoying their time at Amazon, but a campaign from higher-ups to share your experience is obviously a jarring way to do it. If people truly enjoy working somewhere, they’ll probably tweet about it without being asked.